The story of a beautiful relationship shared by the volunteers and students of a Footpath Paathshala (footpath school), which has given new dreams and confidence to street kids. Here’s more on how a school can run completely on strong will and dedication.
A lot of us, including me, have often complained about how infrastructural facilities of government schools are not up to the mark.
But is that really the most important requirement for education? What exactly is essential for the exchange of knowledge and the passing on of learning?
The answer lies in just two words – a teacher and a student.
A live example of this is the ‘Footpath Paathshala’ that runs on the footpath opposite MSU BBA College, Vadodara, Gujarat, where kids living on the streets are the most sincere students and enthusiastic volunteers play the role of wonderful teachers and mentors.
Juin Dutta, the president of the Srotoshwini Trust, tells me that the journey started in May 2013. They started teaching kids, who were gathered by Mahavir International, at the Hill Memorial School.
As days went by, they realized that the number of kids was decreasing. When they asked the kids what the problem was, the kids replied, “aap udhar aa jao (you come there).” By ‘there’, the kids meant the footpath. Since then, there has been no looking back and the number of kids attending the paathshala has constantly increased. In fact, they have started one more paathshala in Sayajigunj near Parshuram Bhatta Road which now has 45 kids.
The kids are taught to read and write in Gujarati. Along with this, the volunteers put a lot of emphasis on teaching good human values to the kids along with making them learn to be more sensitive towards things.
Meena, a six-year-old girl who used to be extremely shy and timid, is now naughty, talkative and full of confidence after coming in contact with Footpath Paathshala.
Ajay, another kid, dreams of going to Australia for higher education and also says that he will nurture kids under him when he grows up, just like his teachers are doing.
When I ask Mrs. Dutta about how much her life has changed after starting this initiative, she smiles, pauses for a second and then says, “Being with these kids is like being in a different world. Never have I been so happy, like I am now. Teaching these kids gives a new perspective and makes us even more sensitive towards things. You start thinking twice before going to a Bistro to eat.”
Juin Ma’am and her team have been encouraged by many passerby citizens who not only appreciate their work but also come forward to whole heartedly donate bags, stationery, etc. for the kids.
However, there is still a huge requirement of people who can volunteer to become teachers and mentors for the kids and contribute to this initiative.
Photo source: Reddit
What keeps the paathshala going and makes it more effective and popular day by day is the selfless ideology behind it. The volunteers believe that they are just doing their duty and not anything “great”. They try to teach the kids and raise them just like they would do their own children.
We wish ‘Footpath Paathshala’ all the very best and encourage more and more Barodians to get involved in making a difference in the life of these kids and their own.
Contributed by Tarana Emmanuel